PARIS, July 29 (UPI) -- Lance Armstrong completed his fourth consecutive victory in the Tour de France Sunday, triumphantly riding through the streets of Paris while putting himself in position to become known as the best ever in his sport.
A victory for Armstrong had been all but certain since the middle of last week, when he once again began displaying his unbeatable strength in the Pyrenees and Alps.
The win became official Sunday at the end of a low-stress ride, during which he took an occasional sip of champagne and acknowledged the cheers of the crowd along the Champs Elysees.
Moments after he crossed the finish line, Armstrong received a call of congratulations from President Bush.
"He said he watching on television and was pulling for me," Armstrong said.
Armstrong became the fifth competitor to win cycling's premier race more than three times and next year he will try to equal the all-time championship record of five. Bernard Hilault of France won the event five times in an eight-year span and Miguel Indurain won it five times in a row beginning in 1991.
The 153 riders who completed the three-week grind traveled the final 87 miles from the town of Macon Sunday and all of them were credited with the same time of three hours, 30 minutes, 47 seconds.
At the front of the pack, however, was Australia's Robbie McEwen, who with the stage victory wrapped up the green jersey that goes to the Tour's best sprinter. Armstrong crossed the line in 43rd place, surrounded by the members of his United States Postal Service team.
Armstong's winning time for the trip around France was 82 hours, five minutes, 12 seconds. He finished seven minutes, 17 seconds ahead of Spain's Joseba Beloki and eight minutes, 17 seconds in front of Raimondas Rumsas of Lithuania.
It is Rumsas, riding in his first Tour, who has been labeled as the biggest threat to Armstrong in what will be the American's bid for cycling history next year. Rumsas finished second to Armstrong in the final individual time trial Saturday, but was unable to stay close to the four-time champion in the mountains.
Ozzie Smith inducted into Hall of Fame
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y., July 29 (UPI) -- Ozzie Smith, whose spectacular defense is the barometer by which all shortstops are measured, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in an emotional ceremony Sunday.
Known as the "Wizard of Oz" for his acrobatic style and effervescent personality, Smith was elected to baseball's shrine in his first year of eligibility. Named on all but 39 of the 472 ballots, Smith was just the 32nd player to make it on his initial try.
Holding the book "The Wizard of Oz," Smith often made references to the famous story, noting that he needed the brain of the scarecrow, the heart of the tin man and the courage of the lion to make it through his baseball odyssey.
Smith thanked many of his colleagues throughout his 30-minute speech, offering a special praise for the fans.
Smith was most emotional at the beginning of his speech after his son, Dustin, read the words on the plaque that will be displayed in the hallowed hall.
A switch-hitting 15-time All-Star who amassed 580 stolen bases for San Diego and St. Louis between 1978-96, Smith was best known for his incredible defense, which resulted in 13 Gold Glove Awards.
Angels tie for division lead
SEATTLE, July 29 (UPI) -- Kevin Appier pitched another gem and Shawn Wooten broke up a scoreless tie with a sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth inning Sunday as the Anaheim Angels regained a share of first place in the American League West with a 1-0 blanking of the Seattle Mariners.
Anaheim used impressive pitching to take two of three from the Mariners, leaving Safeco Field percentage points ahead of Seattle. The Angels gave up just three runs and 15 hits during the series, getting solid outings from starters John Lackey, Jarrod Washburn and Appier (9-8).
Seeking his fourth straight road win, Appier allowed four hits over eight innings to outduel Jamie Moyer.
Troy Percival struck out one in a perfect ninth for his 23rd save in his first appearance since July 11.
Moyer threw just 87 pitches over eight innings, yielding four hits and a walk while striking out six. But closer Kazuhiro Sasaki (2-4) took the loss in a non-save situation.
Other American League results: Boston 12, Baltimore 3; Cleveland 9, Detroit 6; New York 9, Tampa Bay 1; Chicago 4, Kansas City 2; Minnesota 4, Toronto 0; Oakland 12, Texas 2.
Kent stays hot in Giants win
SAN FRANCISCO, July 29 (UPI) -- Jeff Kent's two-run homer in the first inning was all the offense Jason Schmidt needed Sunday as he combined with two relievers on a four-hitter, leading the San Francisco Giants to a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
With Barry Bonds nursing a hamstring injury and unable to start the previous seven games, the Giants lost five times and slipped a season-high six games behind first-place Arizona in the National League West.
But Kent remained among the NL's hottest hitters since the All-Star break. He came into the game hitting .397 in the second half and promptly put the Giants in front, 2-1, with one out in the first.
After Rich Aurilia doubled off Andy Ashby, Kent belted his 18th homer and fourth since the All-Star break.
The blast was enough support for Schmidt (6-5), who allowed one run and four hits in seven innings. He struck out 10 and walked two and avoided dropping three consecutive decisions for the first time as a Giant.
Other National League results: Philadelphia 7, Atlanta 1; New York 6, Cincinnati 5; Montreal 4, Florida 1; Milwaukee 5, Colorado 3; Houston 4, Pittsburgh 1; Arizona 5, San Diego 4 in 10 innings; St. Louis 10, Chicago 9.
Agassi defends title
LOS ANGELES, July 29 (UPI) -- Second-seeded Andre Agassi rolled over Jan-Michael Gambill, 6-2, 6-4, and successfully defended his title Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Cup.
The 32-year-old Agassi lifted the trophy at the Los Angeles Tennis Center for the third time in five years. He won in 1998 and trounced his long-time rival, Pete Sampras, a year ago.
In capturing his 53rd career ATP title, Agassi also became the 10th player in the 75-year-history of this event to win a third crown. He joined Fred Perry and Don Budge in the 1930's, Frank Parker and Jack Kramer in the 1940's, as well as Pancho Gonzalez, Vic Seixas, Roy Emerson, Arthur Ashe and Jimmy Connors.
Agassi, who collected the $51,500 first prize, dispensed with Gambill for the second time in as many career finals encounters. He also posted a straight-sets victory over the 25-year-old in the championship match at the 2000 Tennis Masters Series event in Miami.
In Stanford, Calif., top-seeded Venus Williams completed an overpowering week by sweeping past defending champion Kim Clijsters, 6-3, 6-3, to win the Bank of the West Classic.
Bill Elliott captures NASCAR race
LONG POND, Pa., July 29 (UPI) -- After going eight months between wins, a three-hour delay was nothing for NASCAR Winston Cup veteran Bill Elliott.
Elliott powered his Dodge Intrepid past Winston Cup points leader Sterling Marlin with 19 laps to go Sunday and won the Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway.
Marlin, who led 106 laps in a Dodge, could not hold his position on the final restart on lap 156 and also was passed by Kurt Busch before the long day was over. While Busch finished second in a Ford Taurus, Marlin increased his lead in the standings to 106 points over Mark Martin.
The race was shortened from 200 laps to 175 after two delays totaling more than three hours caused by rain and a spectacular first-lap accident involving Rusty Wallace and DEI teammates Steve Park and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Elliott, who ranks 14th on NASCAR's all-time win list, recorded his first victory since Homestead last November. It was his fifth win at Pocono and the 42nd of his career.
The first delay occurred before the first lap was complete when Wallace hit the wall and caromed into Park. The contact forced Park to steer low and into the path of Earnhardt. Both slid on the infield grass, with Park violently hitting the guardrail, flipping over and landing upside-down.
Earnhardt exited his car and ran toward Park's Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Park was helped out by safety workers and walked off on his own. It took track workers more than an hour to replace the infield rail.
Rain caused a two-hour delay after only 26 laps.
On a busy day in motor sports, Tomas Scheckter won his first IRL race at the Michigan Indy 400, Dario Franchitti claimed the CART Molson Indy Vancouver and Michael Schumacher, who already has clinched his fifth Formula One championship, captured the German Grand Prix.
Hayes ends four-year drought
SILVIS, Ill., July 29 (UPI) -- J.P. Hayes completed four rounds of nearly flawless golf with a 4-under-par 67 Sunday and ended a four-year victory drought in record-breaking fashion at the John Deere Classic.
Winless since the 1998 Buick Classic, Hayes made just one bogey in four trips around the TPC at Deere Run and eclipsed the tournament record with a 72-hole total of 22-under 262.
Hayes' only bogey came Friday at the par-4 eighth hole. But it was all but lost in a round of 61 that set a course record and matched the tournament mark. Hayes carded 67s in his other three rounds and recorded a four-stroke triumph over third-round co-leader Robert Gamez.
Hayes, who turns 37 on Friday, gave himself an early birthday present with the $540,000 first prize and a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour.
In New Rochelle, N.Y., South Korean Gloria Park beat countrywoman Hee-Won Han on the first hole of sudden death at the LPGA Big Apple Classic.
And in Concord, Mass., Bob Gilder won in a playoff for the second straight week on the PGA Senior Tour, outlasting John Mahaffey to grab the FleetBoston Classic.
Giants trade for Lofton
SAN FRANCISCO, July 29 (UPI) -- The San Francisco Giants filled a hole in their injury-riddled outfield Sunday, acquiring veteran Kenny Lofton from the Chicago White Sox for a pair of minor league pitchers.
With injuries to All-Star Barry Bonds, Reggie Sanders and Tsuyoshi Shinjo, Lofton should step right into manager Dusty Baker's outfield and could move to his familiar spot at the top of the lineup.
The 35-year-old Lofton hit .259 with eight home runs, 42 RBI and 22 stolen bases in 93 games in his lone season with Chicago. A 12-year veteran, he also has played for Houston, Atlanta and Cleveland.
Lofton is the second veteran cut loose by the fading White Sox in four days. On Thursday, they traded former All-Star second baseman Ray Durham to the Oakland Athletics for a minor league pitcher and player to be named.
Sparks increase lead
LOS ANGELES, July 29 (UPI) -- Mwadi Mabika had 22 points and eight rebounds and Lisa Leslie added 20 and nine Sunday as the Los Angeles Sparks rolled to an 80-62 victory over the Indiana Fever.
The Sparks had control throughout and reached 20 wins for the fifth consecutive season. They increased their lead atop the Western Conference to two games over second-place Houston, which lost to New York on Sunday.
Mabika and Leslie combined to make 18 of 31 shots as Los Angeles shot 51 percent from the floor and cruised to its fifth straight win.
Other WNBA results: Orlando 76, Cleveland 70; New York 62, Houston 56; Seattle 72, Detroit 59; Sacramento 66, Minnesota 56.
Ray Liotta sues skin care company over use of likeness
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